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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to annemarie@southernfoodways.org.

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ORAL HISTORY

Eva Perry


Tee Eva’s Pralines & Pies

Though she worked in food service for many years in her earlier adulthood, Eva Perry’s professional life didn’t blossom until 1989, when at fifty-five years old she established Tee Eva’s Pralines & Pies. It was while watching the Cajun chef Paul Prudhomme blackening redfish on television that she realized that she, too, had a culture and a talent to market. After all, Eva had learned her trade from a long line of country cooks—while she grew up in New Orleans, both sides of her family were bayou Creoles. Her sweet tooth had been well-established during childhood. Some of her best memories were of her aunt’s lemon icebox pie and bread pudding; of making pralines with just-gathered pecans and brown sugar straight from the mill; and of the frozen icees she purchased for a penny from a Greek-owned store in her neighborhood.

Eventually she graduated to sno-balls. When she was a child, that meant a pile of coarse, hand-scraped ice flavored with either strawberry, spearmint, or pineapple syrup. Back then, there were just three flavors. You could find many times that amount at Tee Eva’s Pralines & Pies, which Eva passed down to her granddaughter, Keonna Thornton Sykes, in 2003.  Eva passed away on June 7, 2018 at the age of eighty-three. The storefront on Magazine Street closed in November 2018.

Date of interview:
2011-07-08

Interviewer:
Sara Roahen

Photographer:
Sara Roahen

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